“What keeps me motivated is not the food itself but all the bonds and memories the food represents.” - Michael Chiarello
My friend Fred died suddenly in February.
He was more than just a good friend – he was my culinary mentor, catering boss and the man how gave me the Conn of my first Starship. There will be more about him later this week.
The memorial service was held yesterday at the Frank Lloyd Wright boathouse in the shadow of the Peace Bridge to Canada. Since its completion in 2007 it was probably Fred's favorite place to cater events. A fitting spot to remember a Cook and Caterer.
His widow Maggie came up with an absolutely brilliant in memoriam for him. She brought his now unused cookbook collection and invited those in attendance to select one and use it and remember Fred. It reminded me of the Fremen funeral rite from Dune: I was a friend of Fred’s; and I take this in memory of him.
My selection didn’t take long. With as many volumes as I have in my cookbook collection you would think it would be difficult to find one that I did not already have, and that would also remind me of Fred. I was wrong. As soon as the volume caught my eye, I knew that it was the right choice – the only choice. The Art of Mexican Cooking by Diana Kennedy.
It was Fred who introduced me to Ms. Kennedy. It was not that my library was lacking in choices for Mexican cuisine. I had several volumes by Rick Bayless and one by Zarela Martinez. I even had an old volume by Elizabeth Lambert Ortiz. For some strange reason I missing Diana Kennedy. And thus she was missing from my repertoire.
Fred worshiped Mexican food – it was one of his favorites. And when it came to Mexican cooking Diana Kennedy was his guru. The Cuisines of Mexico was always in reach in the kitchen of Fredi, and another copy in his library. It didn’t take me long to fall under her spell as well.
This particular volume was absent from my library. It is no longer. Among many things this will always be there to remind me of my friend. I will cook from it. Often.
I can think of no more fitting tribute.
(I should also note the selection made by my daughter Alison. She picked The Greens Cookbook by Deborah Madison. We love Ms. Madison’s Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone – a go to for all things vegetable – so I was quite pleased as the choice she made on her own. When we got home and work inscribing the volumes, as we all did, I noticed that this particular volume was autographed by the author. Pretty darn cool.)